49-bell Carillon Dedicated at Union Night

Union dedicated the new 49-bell Miller Tower carillon as part of Union Night Oct. 1 during Family Weekend. The bronze bells replaced the speaker system in the tower last summer and chime every quarter hour. They can also be played using a keyboard in the base of the tower. A professional carillonneur played a concert of hymns after the dedication.

Kaylee Gibson, president of Union’s student government association, said Miller Tower serves as a symbol for the campus, and the bells are an important part of that.

“The ringing is a gentle reminder that time will pass, things will change, but God is always good,” she said. “I hope that we can all see these bells as an inspiration to inscribe God’s word on our own hearts and to never be silent when we should be singing his praise.”

Read more about the carillon on our website.

Story by Nathan Handley


9th annual Remember Me Commemorative Walk

Post by Theresa Blakley, professor of social work

The Remember Me Commemorative Event for Families of Homicide Loss began nine years ago.  

Dr. Mehr and I conduct a type of therapeutic support group (Restorative Retelling) for persons who have lost loved ones to homicide in and around West Tennessee. The group is free to the community and is operated out of the Trauma, Faith, and Resilience Initiative of The Center for Just and Caring Communities at Union University.

In one of the first groups we facilitated, members expressed how deeply they needed their community to know that their murdered loved ones were persons who were esteemed, cherished, beloved – that they were in the midst of chasing their dreams, ambitions, and managing their responsibilities when their lives were taken – and that they should not be forgotten.  

It was from this angst, the annual Remember Me Commemorative Event for Families of Homicide Loss was born. The event provides an avenue for families of homicide-loss to know that they are not alone, to have their pain and courage acknowledged by a caring community, and to walk in the name and memory of their lost loved one.

In this ninth year, we continue to hear that Remember Me has become the essential event where families of homicide loss annually gather to remember and honor their loved ones.

Many hold up photographs of lost loved ones as they walk around Union’s bell tower; some wear specially made tee shirts with photographs and messages of love.  Tears mingle with courageous smiles as families link arms in their walk of remembrance, vowing never to forget.  

As for Dr. Mehr and I, both survivors of homicide-loss, it is our way of never forgetting as well.  We have learned and have acted upon the lesson that so many who mourn know well:  Placed in the hands of God, no suffering is ever wasted.


Photos by Kristi Woody

Student Life Photos

Over the past few weeks, our student photographers have been hard at work capturing events across campus. In between those assignments, they’ve also photographed many student life moments. Here are some fun photos from our four student photographers taken during their time on campus and during some Residence Life activities.

Photos by Elizabeth Wilson, Gretchen Foels, Morgan Morfe and Janelle Vest

Bantu Addresses Culture and the Gospel


Vince Bantu, visiting professor of missiology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, said diversity is necessary for unity. Bantu spoke in Union University Chapel Sept. 7.

“God is a God of Unity, and you can’t have unity without diversity,” Bantu said. “You have to have different things to unite…We are united in Christ, but we’re also different. That should not be ignored or passed over, but it should be celebrated.”

Bantu said modern Americans often talk about moving beyond racial and cultural differences in an effort for equality, but he said equality is not achieved through racial colorblindness.

“God doesn’t want us to get beyond it,” Bantu said. “This is part of how he made us.”

He said the gospel is uniquely positioned to be translated into every culture, and the Bible offers many examples of this in the book of Acts. He said when the context of the dominant culture is added to the gospel it adds an unnecessary barrier to those in other cultures.

In addition to his chapel address, Bantu gave an evening lecture Sept. 6 titled “Culture and Context: Church History, Orthodoxy and #blacklivesmatter.” He said missions is how the gospel interacts with culture and is contextualized, and understanding current social issues is vital for Christians on mission.

“The gospel is universal in absolute truth, but it’s relative in how it hits us,” he said.

Bantu compared the gospel to a stage play. He said each person in a theater is watching the same play, but each person has a different perspective of the play based on where he or she is seated. He said when Christians recognize and embrace different perspectives of the gospel, it gives a more complete picture.

“Cross-cultural experiences are like an intermission,” Bantu said. “We get to hear about other perspectives and what other people have seen.”

Bantu encouraged students who are interested in mission work in other countries to first interact with other cultures in their own cities. He said the gospel embraces each person equally, and this is obvious when it is seen in an unfamiliar culture.

“We’re not bringing God to heathen nations,” Bantu said. “He’s already there at work, revealed in creation. We aren’t civilizing people or teaching them anything. We’re sharing good news.”

Story by Nathan Handley


Dr. Vince Bantu’s evening lecture in the Bowld Student Commons

Meet Our Students – Part 3

Union students work hard and set lofty goals. They enjoy building community, pursuing leadership roles and having fun. Here are just a few of the stellar students we would like you to meet.

Part 1 | Part 2



Austin Orr

Austin Orr – exercise science/wellness major from Jackson, Tennessee

“Pretty much every aspect of campus life I’m involved with, either in class or on the field, faith is always that overarching theme that ties everything together about Union.”

Learn more about Austin here.




Ryne Roper

Ryne Roper – elementary education major from Harrisburg, Illinois

“The sense of community that Union brings is very different and something I was really longing for. It’s been nothing short of remarkable.”

Read more about Ryne’s Union story here.




Bailey Howell

Bailey Howell – teaching English as a second language major from Jackson, Tennessee

“I look at my time at Union so far, and I think that the tight-knit community with the professors and staff and students here makes it exactly what I want. I’m the person I am today because of a lot of people at Union.”

Read more about Bailey here.

Cell Biology Project Uses Bio-Rad qPCR


Students in the department of biology have been working throughout the summer on research projects. Many of the projects, including Benton Hurt’s, are focused on the thyroid and thyroid irregularities.

Benton is a senior cell and molecular biology major, and his project is focused specifically on how cells regulate the thyroid under different types of stress.

“We’re looking to see if there is a marked difference in RNA expression in the macrophages, which are immune cells,” Benton said. “The goal ties into broader research going on in the department to better understand hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.”

William Thierfelder, associate professor of biology, has been working on the project with Benton. He said some of the things they are studying are possible because of new equipment provided by donors.

“This machine, the Bio-Rad qPCR, is a complex piece of machinery,” he said. “But it basically allows us to measure gene expression in these cells.”

Thierfelder said the research may help find ways of treating thyroid irregularities that cause metabolism issues and other symptoms. Benton said even though the project does not sound exciting to most people, he has enjoyed the process.

“It’s nice to be able to work on something like this and later be able to see how it ties into the bigger picture,” he said. “We’re not looking for a major discovery, but every part of the research is important.”

Story by Nathan Handley, photos by Kristi Woody


Summer Music Camp 2016 Photos

Another successful Summer Music Camp wraps up today. The Department of Music has enjoyed teaching kids of all ages about music this week through choir and instrumental classes. It has been a wonderful week, and the students will practice what they’ve learned during a concert this evening for their friends and family.

Please enjoy these photos from the camp!

Nursing Students Practice Primary Care Procedures

Nursing students had a chance to practice the skills they are learning in the procedures for primary care course. The entire class took part in a lab where they practiced suturing, joint injections, dressings and other primary care skills.

“The class has a lot of lectures and a lot of reading, but this lets them get in there and really see how these things look in practice,” said Cathy Aslin, assistant professor of nursing.

The students practiced locating and removing foreign objects by removing fish hooks and toothpicks from pigs’ feet. They also practiced sutures of various shapes on synthetic materials.

The course is required for nursing students and takes place every summer. Aslin said it is a unique opportunity for undergraduate students.

“This isn’t something you would normally get to do at an undergraduate level,” she said. “But it helps our students be more prepared and confident when they encounter these procedures.”

Story by Nathan Handley, photos by Kristi Woody


History of Animation: Special Interest Elective


During the spring semester, students had the opportunity to learn about the origins, process and legacy of animated film in a history of animation class. The class, taught by Chris Blair, professor of communication arts, traced animation from its beginning in the late 1800s to the early 2000s.

Gabe Hilliard, junior public relations major, said he knew he wanted to take the class from the moment he saw the poster.

“It’s kind of a weird class to take,” Gabe said. “It’s not really part of my major, but it looked so interesting and like a lot of fun.”

The class included lectures and readings, but the students also watched animated films and documentaries in class. Gabe said he grew up watching cartoons and little else, and he never grew out of them. He said he had seen most of the movies watched in class, but he was more impressed with them after learning about the roles of individual animators.

“I didn’t ever think about just how much they were the key,” Gabe said. “It relies solely on them to draw the animations. I had no idea Ub Iwerks, Chuck Jones and guys like that existed, aside from Disney, but I had seen their work.”

As part of the class, students were required to make their own short animations using traditional methods. Gabe said while working on the project he realized it is important to have an idea of the final product. He said this is something he can apply to his work in public relations.

“Even though an individual piece might not seem important, it will mess up the big picture if it isn’t done well,” he said.

Anna-Alicia Sails, a senior broadcast journalism major, said she has also liked animation since she was a child, but she knew very little about it and had not seen most of the films shown in the class. She said the process of animation was very interesting to her.

“I loved learning about the equipment and how it started with the cameras, vitascope, multi-plane cameras and all that went into it,” Anna-Alicia said. “Knowing a little more about that I think will help me in broadcasting where I’m around cameras every day.”

She said she was also fascinated by the early life of Walt Disney, and she wanted to learn even more about him after taking the class.

“At first he wasn’t very successful, but he ended up being so influential,” she said. “Just seeing his hardship and how he worked so hard, he is the epitome of never giving up.”

The history of animation class is open to all students and will be part of the new film studies major beginning this fall.

Story by Nathan Handley, photos by Kristi Woody


Union Family Celebrates Barefoot


Union faculty, staff and students honored former Union president Hyran E. Barefoot at a celebration Monday in Barefoots Joe. The celebration marked the 20th anniversary of the naming of the Barefoot Student Union Building in Barefoot’s honor.

Barefoot served as president of Union from 1986 to 1996. Catherine Kwasigroh, vice president for institutional advancement, was a student at Union during that time. She said it was appropriate that the Student Union Building be named for Barefoot because of the love he had for students.

“Dr. Barefoot knew all the students in the senior class,” she said. “That was the type of president that he was. He wanted to know the students and be invested in their lives.”

Joy Moore, director of Barefoots Joe, said Barefoot’s name was also an obvious choice when naming the coffee shop. Barefoots Joe was built in 2008 after a tornado damaged much of Union’s campus.

“We were building something for the future of Union, but we wanted to remember the past and the people who made it possible,” Moore said. “Dr. Barefoot’s name points to that.”

Barefoot said he remembers vividly when the Student Union Building became a reality. He said in the early 1990s, the campus had about 2,400 students when it was designed for only 1,200.

“Some of the structures that we made at that time were not total necessities, but this building simply had to be built if we continued activity,” Barefoot said.

He said as the building was built, he was anxious to have someone give an outstanding gift in order for the building to be named in their honor.

“We suggested $2 million,” Barefoot said. “No takers. We threw out the idea of $1 million. No takers. And we simply moved on until finally I got my name put on it for $40. It’s the best bargain I ever made.”

The building was named in honor of Barefoot upon his retirement in 1996.

Barefoot said he and his wife, Joyce, were thrilled to spend time on Union’s campus Monday and celebrate what God has done through the university.

“We are very grateful for the privilege to be back here and to remember those beginning times,” he said.

Story by Nathan Handley, photos by Kristi Woody